by Michael Newton
In the spirit of Jawbone.tv breaking stories last, I would like today to write about Girls, the much discussed, moderately watched HBO comedy about four young ladies livin’ and letting live in Brooklyn, NYC in this year of our lord 2012.
We are not here to discuss whether the show is good or bad, works or doesn’t, is funny or not. We are here to point out the possibility of Girls as a transmedia, multi-platform project. Because that’s what the people want to read about: how Girls can capitalize on our current tech-marketing strategies in order to increase viewership and intensify viewer loyalty?
The thing about this show is that it really is for the people it is portraying: mid-20’s hipster types with aspirations and debt, education and doubt, doing what they have to do—or failing to—to get by in this big city. And in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I am one of those people. I am the niche that Girls was carved for. I don’t even watch it that much but I don’t really have too.
I know that sometimes Girls works. And that sometimes it’s infuriating. How do I know this if I don’t watch? Because I’ve had to listen to my friends talk about it, over and over again.
I mean, I’ve seen my friends literally (shades of Chris Traeger here) literally turn green with envy talking about Girls. In one and the same moment, people reveal a desire to destroy and to be Lena Dunham. This show she has made has taken on its own life. It seems to sort of get inside you. Even people who hate it use it as a metric by which to measure themselves and their achievements.
Bottom line, Girls plays a game where the audience is asked to project themselves into its world. The strange part is that, unlike sci-fi, the world the audience is drawn into is not fantastical or far-away. It’s right down the block. It’s home.
Which brings me to my point, which is really very simple: since people inherently project themselves into the show’s world, and because of the unique fact that the niche audience actually lives where the action happens, I think Girls is missing an opportunity to apply some multi-platform/transmedia techniques.
It would be so easy.
Like, HBO just came out with that fancy real time map that walks you through the Game of Thrones landscape (see…), why not do the same thing with Girls. Or, why not make facebook pages for the main characters? Or, why not encourage fan-fiction that allows fans to literally write themselves into the world?
Girls is so the kind of show that would benefit from this kind of activity. There are definite, tangible hooks that could be used to generate interest among potential NYC viewers. If Girls got serious it could even do that gross, synergistic cross-promotion of the venues and shops and cafes it uses, in the way that marketers seem to love. I mean, if it did go down this road we could all be lining up at some café off Bedford listening to Hannah Horvath surrogates read essays to one another.
I will note that you do see some cross-over multi-platform activity centering around Dunham herself. She has a large twitter following, and HBO posts videos after every episode of her discussing what just happened. Because her person is so close to her work, the interest that follows her acts as a gate-way into the show in a manner that used to be the purview of fictional characters and fictive efforts.